Several newspaper stories over the past 2 weeks have commemorated the 75th anniversary of the liberation of France at the end of World War II — but they tend to focus on DeGaulle and the Allies marching through the streets of Paris. The local papers in the deep heart of France, though, have a different, darker memory of the events of August 1944. For people in Moulins the war wasn’t over when those triumphant scenes played out in Paris. On the same day the Nazi garrison surrendered in the capital, 56 men, 9 women and a 7-year-old child were dragged from their cells in the tower known as “Mal-Coiffée”, a 14th-century dungeon used as a prison by the occupying German […]
A few weeks ago I was in Souvigny, a postcard-perfect town in the Allier, and it made me think of computer systems. Well, in a roundabout way… I first heard the phrase “plan d’urbanisme” when I was working in the Information Technology department of a big manufacturing company in France. While it literally means “city planning”, in the context of IT it meant trying to figure out the thorny problem of how to integrate new applications and new technologies into an existing mass of old systems.
As you drive through the “deep heart of France”, you’ll regularly come across a massive house, usually sitting on top of a little hill or bluff and looking as though it’s been there forever. There may be some evidence of fortifications – a guard tower, a thick wall around the garden, sometimes even a moat. But is this a “chateau”? Or just a big, old house in the country?
Sometimes I come across one of the “most beautiful villages in France” that apparently gets more points for the vistas it overlooks than for what it actually contains. Montpeyroux, for me, is one example.Not to say you shouldn’t visit – you should! It is a lovely, neatly-kept little town with its own rich history deep in the Auvergne. It’s easy to find, too; its prominent castle tower is visible to thousands of cars every day as they zip along the A7 (“La Méridienne), the major autoroute that connects Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers down on the Mediterranean coast. Within the city walls the first thing you’ll notice is how much lighter and brighter Monypeyroux looks compared to many other towns in the […]